Washington, D.C. – At an oversight hearing on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today announced detailed information about the criminal aliens released by the Obama Administration during Fiscal Year 2014. This new information shows that ICE released thousands of criminal aliens convicted of offenses involving dangerous drugs, assault and domestic violence, stolen vehicles, robbery, sex offenses, sexual assault, kidnapping, voluntary manslaughter, and even homicide.
According to information provided by ICE to the House Judiciary Committee, the agency released 30,558 criminal aliens with a total of 79,059 convictions in Fiscal Year 2014. ICE often claims that the Supreme Court’s decision in Zadvydas v. Davis forces them to release aliens that they normally would not want to release back into the community. However, the total number of convicted criminal aliens released based on the Zadvydas decision totaled 2,457 in Fiscal Year 2014, representing only 8% of the releases. Additionally, the criminal aliens released due to Zadvydas committed 16,126, or 20%, of the crimes committed by the released aliens.
Among the convictions of criminal aliens released in Fiscal Year 2014 are 86 homicide convictions, 186 kidnapping convictions, 373 sexual assault convictions, 449 commercialized sexual offenses, 1,194 battery convictions, 1,346 domestic violence convictions, and 13,636 driving under the influence of alcohol convictions.
Below is Chairman Goodlatte’s opening statement from today’s oversight hearing.
Chairman Goodlatte: “As the Obama Administration consistently shrinks the universe of criminal and unlawful aliens that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can remove, ICE apprehensions have decreased by 40% since this time last year. ICE administrative arrests of criminal aliens declined 32% compared to this time last year. The average daily population (ADP) of aliens in detention facilities has declined to approximately 26,000 beds. This has occurred despite a mandate in law that requires ICE to maintain a 34,000 ADP in detention facilities. And the number of unlawful or criminal aliens that ICE has removed from the interior of the country has fallen by more than half since 2008.
“Many factors have contributed to the sharp decline of interior immigration enforcement under this Administration, including the collapse of issuance and compliance with ICE detainers because of ICE’s own detainer policy issued on December 21, 2012 that limits ICE’s ability to issue detainers, ICE’s failure to defend its detainer authority, ICE’s implementation of its new enforcement priorities announced by Secretary Johnson on November 20, 2014, and the demise of the Secure Communities program on this same date.
“Detainers are a key tool used by ICE. They are notices issued by ICE and other DHS units that ask local, State and federal law enforcement agencies not to release removable aliens held at their facilities in order to give ICE an opportunity to take them into its custody and put them in removal proceedings.
“Due to the detainer debacle this Administration has created, ICE officers must wake up in the early hours of the morning, put their lives at risk, and go out into the community to apprehend convicted criminal aliens that have been released onto the streets. Director, you yourself are part of the confusion. You testified before Congress one day stating that detainers should be made mandatory, and the next day you retracted your testimony. When aliens released onto the streets go on to commit additional crimes yet could have been placed in ICE custody, this Administration is responsible. From January 1, 2014 to September 30, 2014, over 10,000 detainers were not honored. The recidivism rate for these aliens was 29%. Innocent citizens and law enforcement officers could be injured, maimed, or murdered due to a detainer not being issued or honored because of this Administration’s policies. The Administration is responsible and will be held accountable.
“When President Obama announced unilateral changes to our immigration system with a wave of his “pen and cell phone” on November 20, 2014, he indicated that he would allow millions of unlawful and criminal aliens to evade immigration enforcement. He did this with the issuance of new so-called U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “priorities” for the apprehension, detention, and removal of aliens.
“Under the Obama Administration’s new enforcement priorities, broad categories of unlawful and criminal aliens will be beyond the reach of the law even if they don’t qualify for the President’s unconstitutional legalization programs. This means that millions of removable aliens will remain in the U.S. without any risk of removal.
“Simultaneously, President Obama effectively announced the end of Secure Communities. Despite the fact that the President claims he took action to prioritize immigration enforcement against criminal aliens, he is scrapping a tool that identifies criminal aliens booked in jails across the United States so that federal law enforcement officials can prioritize their removal. Secure Communities, created in 2008, was a simple and highly successful program to identify criminal aliens once arrested and jailed. It protected American citizens and immigrants alike from aliens who were a danger to their communities.
“As ICE has said on numerous occasions, Secure Communities simply “uses an already-existing federal information sharing partnership between ICE and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that helps to identify criminal aliens” so that ICE can take enforcement action. As of August 2014, the Administration indicated that over 375,000 convicted criminal aliens were removed as a result of Secure Communities.
“We just learned that in addition to releasing over 36,000 convicted criminal aliens in FY 2013, ICE released 30,558 convicted criminal aliens in FY 2014 pursuant to its so-called ‘priorities.’ The agency released thousands of criminal aliens convicted of offenses involving dangerous drugs, assault and domestic violence, stolen vehicles, robbery, sex offenses, sexual assault, kidnapping, voluntary manslaughter, and even homicide. 27% of the aliens released were so called “level 1s” according to the Administration – the worst of the worst.
“Director, ICE’s first duty and highest obligation is public safety. The nonsensical actions of this Administration demonstrate its lack of desire to enforce the law even against unlawful aliens convicted of serious crimes. I can only hope that as the new director of ICE, you will reconsider these policies put in place by your predecessors and return ICE to an agency that puts public safety and the enforcement of our immigration laws as its number one concern.”
For more on today’s ICE oversight hearing, click here.